Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Fever Dream part 10

 A beautiful day today, so a good day to go for a drive up to the Studio.  Don't have my good cutting tools yet, which are probably in storage, so I am using my class tools to cut the new block.  Luckily, these are pretty good tools (I wouldn't have my students get them or use them if they weren't), if not at the level that I am used to.  And I know that they are sharp, because I checked them before the classes I didn't have this summer.  And if they get dull, I have sharpening stones.  The block drawing isn't quite done- I want to check and fix a few things- but I can start cutting things that are drawn right. And I do want to get started cutting.  I haven't cut any wood since last summer, since before my operation, and I want to make sure I can still do that.

Brought with me the block, the tools, pencils, and my small case of jazz/blues discs, but it turned out I didn't need this last item.   I ended up choosing music from the small pile of discs I left in the Studio, in case Molly decided to listen to one.  (she listens to the radio about 95% of the time, so a small pile of discs is enough)  I left things I figured she would like, and so I left the two Neil Young discs that I got from my old classmate John Siblik, several years ago.  After being told that Nichole was on the phone and I should come back later, I went to my Studio to work and chose one of those Neil Young discs, something Siblik had labeled Live at Massey Hall 1971.  I didn't know if it was an album, or something he had recorded elsewhere.  Some internet research I did later at home told me it is indeed an album, recorded at a show in Toronto back in 1971, for possible release as an album that year, but Young decided he'd rather have studio recordings as his next album.  About half of the 18 songs hadn't been released yet on an album at the time of the show, so it would have been an interesting album.  A quality recording (all acoustic) if he had gone that way.  (as it was, it was released as an album in 2007)  

This piece of wood had been cut to be a supermarket block, and was about that size, except that I decided to use the saw cut edges for some of it.   The one edge that was not as straight as the others, for that one I drew a true border, and cut that out first today.  As with last time, I started at the left side, though for the reason that this part of the block (third nurse) seemed the most complete.  This is one fifth of the block, but it's pretty much done- the nurse (complete with helicopter), and the opened door.  I don't want to cut anything else until I resolve the drawings in those parts, so that is the next step.  

Saw Nichole at the end of my day, talked about life in the building, a class in the spring (maybe drawing, which got enrolled enough last time, and she thinks could be an introduction to woodcut).  After that, I went home.  Still no photos to share, but maybe soon.

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Fever Dream part 9


Went back to my block today, some refining, and some new stuff.  On my way up to Ocean Grove, I heard a Springsteen song on the radio, and that put me in a mood to listen to the first disc in my two disc collection of favorite songs, mostly stuff from the first 5 albums in this case.  The irony is that the song I had heard on the radio isn't on this disc, but on the second disc.

For no particular reason, I worked from left to right today.  I started with the newest nurse, cleaning up my sketch from yesterday, adding a little detail, and making some slight adjustments, but it was mostly as I wanted it.  Then the rest of the wall and door behind her.  To make sure I was seeing this correctly, I made use of one of the doors to the Studio.  With the door structure settled, I could finally finish the Entenmann's aisle end, based on observed shelves in many supermarkets over the past several months.   I may have used the real thing as a model, but this is definitely a dream item, as supermarkets have been in a lot of dreams of late, often in semi-darkness.  And the Entenmann's display is also from a dream- one where I was looking for a suitable Sunday morning treat and in the dream was looking for an item called an Entemann's Klown, which was an exceptionally large flat cake.  In my dream, I was looking for a chocolate related item, but they were out of those. 

Next was some plant growth in the foreground, the bottom of the doorway.  Forms a transition between the hall and the tile floor of the supermarket.  I based these on a print done years ago, a black and white image called Toad, done for a group folio. (the image is on my website) In that case, the plants were adapted from a panel of Saga of the Swamp Thing, perhaps one of my favorite comic books of all time, not for the art (which was very effective), but for Alan Moore's writing, considered by many some of the best ever to be found in mainstream comics. 

I did a little bit of touch up to one of the two interior nurses, but not much.  I'll probably save that until another time, when I will redo all the helicopters. My redone Entenmann's shelf gave me a little more view of the the circular clothing rack, so I completed that as well.  In that same vicinity, I made some slight changes to the escalator (as in a mall department store, also from a dream.

The last thing I did today was add a piece of a Jefferies Tube behind the hand holding the keys on the far right.  It's only a sliver of the tube, the entrance of which would be circular, but vertical on a wall.  For those not familiar with Star Trek, a Jefferies Tube (named for the art director on the original series) is an angular crawlspace, roughly a 45 degree upward angled tube used to access mechanical things on the ship. This also comes from an old dream.  In real life, in my youth we lived in a split level, and there was a short stairway connecting the family room and the basement, but in my dream, we also had tubes that connected the two rooms, which would have been very much like a Jefferies Tube.  I traced the circumference of Molly's largest clamp light for the small piece of the circle that appears on the block.  The rest of the wall is brick, like in my building.

As I finished that, my disc ended, and it was time to head home, some tasks to be done on the way home.

Monday, September 20, 2021

Fever Dream part 8


The last main piece of my new block drawing was a third helicopter nurse.  For the two inside the room I used photos from the internet as my sources, but the largest and most prominent one, and perhaps the most significant one, I wanted to get a live posable model.  At first I had thought about asking one of the assistants at my physical therapy place (ether one would do), but suddenly all their schedules changed and they weren't around when I was, then my time there ended.  More recently, I decided my speech therapist might work.  Her build was appropriate to what I had in mind, her standard clothing for work would suffice for conversion to scrubs, and she had some appreciation for my art skills.  So I asked her and she agreed to a quick sketch session there in the office, following our appointment for therapy.  

Today was the scheduled day. I brought with me a sketchbook and pencils, an eraser, the block itself, a sample block of the same material (birch, the one I used for the video piece last summer), a mirror, some painter's tape to mark the XY axis that will help me add the helicopter later, plus some surgical gloves and masks in case we needed them.  (Normally she wears a face shield, requirement for the office, but the masks were more common for nurses, including the one she is portraying.)  And of course, the binder where all my speech exercises and homework is kept. We took care of that first.

I had the actual block for two reasons.  First, I figured she deserved to see the actual block itself, and the drawing so far, as she deserved to know what she would be part of and why I was doing it.  Second, I needed to see how the figure would fit in, plus this way I only had to draw it once, instead of drawing it on paper, then copying that drawing onto my block.  My concept called for this last nurse to be helping to open the door to my studio, so we had to figure out how to make use of the door to her office for this purpose (not the same hinge system, and there was the open in/open out thing and the mirror effect, but my art training and print experience helped me to figure it out) and the best way to pose her for the image. With all this figured out, the simple gestural sketch took only a few minutes.  Used the mirror to make sure it was all working in reverse, and that was it.  I'll refine it, add more details in the coming days.   

I was hoping to be able to add a photo of this new figure (and the block itself for that matter) to this blog post, but my camera is still missing, probably in storage.  My new phone (earlier this year) technically has a camera in it, and I did take a photo of today's work, but despite watching many internet videos over the past few months, I still haven't figured out how to get photos from my phone to an email so I can get them to my computer. I may have to stop by the store where I bought it (here in town) and ask them to show me how to do it.   Meanwhile, I have a photo and will continue to work on my drawing.

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Fever Dream part 7


Took care of some other business, then let myself into my Studio.  I knew this would be a relatively short day today, so I chose a disc from my jazz/blues set, 'Round About Midnight from Miles Davis.   In the title cut (of sorts), Davis does a pretty good version of Thelonius Monk's 'Round Midnight, but the rest of the album is a classic as well.  And it times out at about an hour, which is what I could spare today.

Didn't draw anything new today, but used my time to clean up and redraw a few things done before.  A better version of the stackable chairs I have, improved perspective on the Entemann's end of the aisle display, and updated the two images of helicopter nurses I adapted from internet sources.  Darkened the border I had put in.  Fixed a little flaw in my comic book display. Also spent time just looking, thinking about things I may change in the drawing before I am ready to cut.  

Monday, September 13, 2021

Another one gone


I had first learned about it a few days ago, and earlier today I saw a newspaper article about it from a few day ago.  Another local landmark is closing- Don's Pizza King.  It's in Belmar on Main Street, adjacent to Pyanoe Plaza, across from 9th Avenue.  They sold whole pies and slices, plus all the usual Italian dishes that you'd find at any local pizza place.  I considered it to be average- not bad, but not great.  I first went there in the early 90's. on a day trip down the shore, along with a college friend.  There were a lot of places in town she liked.  The record stores were good, but now long gone.  The Pizza King is still there, but not for long. It opened around the time I was born, but as with many older places, the founders are ready to retire.  In the article, the owner complained about not being able to get help, but that's a problem in a lot of places, a combination of Covid related behaviors, and that most businesses prefer to pay low wages and a lot of workers want more.  I haven't been there in a while, mostly because there were enough better places closer to where I lived, in my various homes around the area.  

I don't know if the concerts are still going on in the Plaza.  For years, there were weekly music shows in that plaza, and Don's set up picnic tables and chairs where people could order, sit, and eat their Italian meals while enjoying live music.  Once I went to see and photograph one of the shows for the BAC blog, and saw a large group of our founders enjoying a meal.  I stopped by to greet them, and pointed out the dark indigo sky to the west, generally a sign that a giant thunderstorm is approaching.  One of the party put down my suggestion, saying he had an ap that told him the rain wouldn't come.  I wished them luck and started walking to my car, parked in the spaces on 10th.  Felt the first drop when I was a few feet from my car, and once I was inside, it started to pour.  If those shows are no longer happening, probably not helping the business.

Several years ago I was doing the above boardwalk print, the subject being the boardwalk at night.  As a kid we always went at night, ate dinner at home, and could ride the rides and play the games as the sun went down.  All the boardwalks have pizza places and I wanted my night boardwalk to have one as well.   I wanted a nice short name for my place and chose "Don's" despite the Belmar (which no longer has any amusement things on its boardwalk) place, not because of it.  Over the years I've had a few viewers tell me they figured they are related, but they are not.  All the signs are quite plausible for boardwalks, but completely made up.  Same goes for all the stores and games.  Some people have told me they've been to this boardwalk, but since it only exists in my head, I know they never have.  

Saturday, September 11, 2021

It Was Twenty Years Ago Today


Pretty much all week the top news story has been the events of 9/11 and the results of those terror attacks. Today there was even more.  After all, today is the 20th anniversary of the event.  A whole generation has grown up without having experienced it which seems kind of odd for all of us who did.  

In my case, I experienced it as a media event, first hearing about it as it was happening on the radio, and seeing all of it on television as the scenes ran without ending on all stations for the next week.  (in the piece above, sketched out that night, except for the radio event at the right end of the first row, all my imagery of the events at the World Trade Center came from television broadcasts)  I wrote about this in detail September of 2019- you can find it there if you want.

One thing I have thought about today is that I rarely do work about current events.  I wrote about this a while back, but today I decided to do a little research on past works. For example, one of my most well known works is my Fourth of July series, where I showed an event in my life for each day for a year, a total of 366 prints.  Surely one would expect that major political events would show an influence on what I selected, but not so often.  Over the course of a year, I found only four images that might qualify as national stories.  On July 7th, I did something related to the midwestern flood of 1993, where the rough winter and warm spring and summer had resulted in major rivers across the country cresting and the equivalent of a 6th Great Lake forming in the midwest.  This was both a local story (the county I lived in at the time was declared a disaster area), and a national story, as many states were affected all over the country.  On November 3rd, I struggled to get results of the off year elections in New Jersey, but the Illinois news never wanted to talk about it.  My piece on April 25th about the local showing of a piece of the AIDS quilt was kind of a national story, as the then incurable disease was feared everywhere in the country, including where I was.  The one thing that was mostly political was my April 27th piece about the funeral for former president Nixon.  (these can all be found on the linked blog above if you want to see them)

Another things I thought of today was my piece A New Year for America, which can be seen below.

Some 52 stories, all found in news sources (mostly newspapers, but occasionally the internet if I had no luck elsewhere), yet most of the stories turned out to be more about the local nature of the event. It was based on current events (all within a month before or after the new year), but most are related to the individual state, and not the national story that formed around it.  So the fact that I rarely do contemporary events is maybe a trend.

That's that


As I expected, this computer site for keeping track of registration never really worked.  It allowed me to sign up for an ID, and sent me an acknowledgment of that, but never let me back in to check anything.  No big deal, as I never had a system like that or any class anywhere.  I did know that I was also supposed to receive notification if anyone signed up (and they had my address) but I never got any of those either, so my thinking was that I had no students.  Unfortunately, by last night I still hadn't heard anything, and the class was due to start today.  I sent an email to Nichole, but no response from her.  Checked back in late morning, but just another reminder about their big race next week, and the class was still listed on the site. I decided it was best if I was up there in the early afternoon, and if I could find out for sure there wasn't a class, I wouldn't have to worry.  On the other hand if students had signed up, I better be ready to teach a class.  

Usually on the first day, I show a lot of prints from my collection, bring my books, do a safety lesson on using woodcut tools, and distribute woodblocks for the first print. Unfortunately, most of my possessions were in storage, including all my books and prints.  My saw stopped working this year, and without students signed up I hadn't been in a hurry to buy one (and hadn't) I had some wood, enough for 3 or 4 students, but normally I'd get more, and with no saw to cut it with, no immediate need.  At least I had the set of student tools, so I could do my safety lesson, and no books to show, but I could give the names of relevant artists to the student to look up for whatever kind of project they had in mind to try.  I don't have my collection of artist prints, or any of my unframed prints (carrying large numbers of framed prints in very heavy and difficult) but I had a few things in my studio I could get if I wanted to show some.  A few things in postcard form as well, in my car's glove compartment.  This would have to due.

I got up there around quarter after 1.  No sign of Nichole's car, but I went in through the office anyway.  Bobby was there, a new device attached to him for now, but very happy to be in his current condition.  He knew nothing, but said Nichole was up in the kitchen on the 3rd floor.  Took the elevator and found her there, washing big sheet pans and pots.  I think those who use things should wash them, but that's me.  She used her smart phone to confirm that no one was signed up for the class, so we officially canceled it.  The future is still up in the air, but nothing is happening probably until next year.  Maybe print again, maybe drawing (which I taught there successfully a few years ago).  Nothing gets decided next week, probably that race takes up all her immediate time.  With that settled, I decided to head for home, with a stop along the way to pick up a few things at the store.

Friday, September 03, 2021

Fever Dream part 6


At first I had thought that I got so much done yesterday that there wasn't much left for me to do.  But the more I looked at the block, the more I realized needed to be done.  My plan was to go up in the early afternoon, even though I tend to avoid going anywhere around here on holiday weekends, and we are just starting Labor Day weekend now.  Plus, we have some nice weather predicted for the next few days.  On the other hand, too nice a day to hang out in the house all day.  So my new plan was to go right after lunch.  Of course, my parents decided to take a long lunch of their own. I packed my book bag (this time selecting my larger CD case) and waited.  And waited.  I made the decision that by 2:30 I would leave whether or not they were back, but then they came home around 2:20.  I grabbed my stuff and took off.

Thanks to the later than expected start, I figured I'd have less time, and may only have time for one part now, so I selected a single album copy from my rock/pop case. Went with Kirsty MacColl's Tropical Brainstorm, which I wrote about in March of 2020 if you want to learn more.  Of the three roughed in areas inside the room that I knew needed more work, I decided to work on the Disney Castle image.  This one started in a dream from a long time ago.  I was watching tv, and had been handling some blotter papers that had LSD on them, for reasons I can't remember.  In the dream, I feared that my skin had absorbed some of the hallucinogenic and I would be affected.  I looked at the television, which was tuned to the current version of Disney's Sunday evening show (this was before they had their own channel, so all Disney programming was seen for a few hours on Sunday nights on whatever network was carrying it that year).  The show always ended with a scene of one of the Disney castles (I don't remember which one) lit up at night, with Tinkerbell flying in and  zapping it with her magic wand.  As I watched the show ending, there was no Tinkerbell, and the castle was starting to go up in flames.  I decided that the acid must have affected me some.  I don't remember how the dream went from there. 

In my new print, I had decided a while back I would include the castle burning in the deep background of my studio full of strange images, and sketched one in detail on a page in my sketchbook from an internet source.  (There are castles in both of the main theme parks in this country- Sleeping Beauty's in California and Cinderella's in Florida.  I think I went with the latter.)  I had roughed in the castle when I started this, but today I did it with more detail, using a mirror for more accuracy. For now I decided to add something that I didn't have before- Tinkerbell, an arm covering her eyes, afraid to look at the flames consuming the castle.  There's a lot of detail in these Disney things, so I may pull it up again on my computer and make sure I got everything right.  As it was, these two things took about an hour, so I decided to end my day there.  The other things will wait for another time. 

Thursday, September 02, 2021

Fever Dream part 5


Today was a nice day to be outside.  Low 70's, low humidity, light breeze.  Especially after last night, which included the remnants of Hurricane Ida passing through the state on its way from Louisiana.  Some parts of the state saw huge floods as rivers overflowed, and those haven't finished cresting yet, so some of those floods will be worse.  (If I was still working at Kean and on Thursdays, I would have had to deal with flooding on the GSP and much of Union, but I don't work there anymore.)  We got all the same warnings here, but the worst of the storm passed to the west, giving us only a few inches, and winds not unusual for around here.  And no matter what part of the state, it was all out to sea by this morning and the sun came out.

I had to wait a while for my parents to end all their adventures, so I couldn't really leave until almost 3 pm.   But I did want to get out of the house and get some work done.  I had packed my backpack with all I needed, and took off when I could.  I saw Nichole's car in the lot, but we had taken care of business earlier in the week, so I got right to my task.  

Yesterday I had spent some time sketching circular clothing racks of the type seen in department stores, including how the clothes hang.  My block had one roughed in, so today I wanted to improve that.  However, I never bothered to take out my sketchbook with these sketches, but just redrew it based on my memories of what I had studied.  For everything else, I didn't have sketches already, but just cleaned up my drawings based on my abilities to draw things, one of the perks of being an artist.  So I used perspective and a ruler to put in a tile floor, an aisle end Entemann's display (dream objects), a large escalator (dream), and a rider (art abilities) turned to check out the deep background- a Disney castle burning (dream).   Still has a ways to go, but it's starting to come together.  

Just a short visit today, so I had brought the smaller jazz/blues collection.  And knowing I had only a short time to be in the Studio today, I went with a single album disc, my home burned copy of Gil Scott-Heron's The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, an early 70's collection mostly made from his first few albums, which were his most successful anyway.  Scott-Heron was an unusual case, mostly backed by a jazz combo, over which he sometimes sang, and sometimes spoke, making him one of first rappers in recorded history.  Many of his songs were about the problems of life in the ghetto, and the dangers of drug use, but this didn't stop him from eventually becoming a drug addict.  I remember a tv show and a discussion about his being open about having become a crack addict, albeit a functioning one, as his income from music made it possible to get the drugs he needed without a life of crime to support it, in some ways like Townes Van Zandt, whose income from past recordings and song writing was just enough to keep him in alcohol and drugs he needed.  Both musicians/song writers eventually succumbed to their addictions, as they always do, but until then I guess they lived the lives they wanted to.   That was the point of the Scott-Heron discussion- if he could support his drug habit without crime, was it a bad thing, or just the way he worked and lived?  I don't know if a conclusion was reached.